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Looking for the Best Fruity Red Wine

red wineFinding a good, fruity red wine can sometimes be quite a challenge because reds run the gamut of very dry to very sweet on the taste scale. As a rule, wines from warmer climates tend to be fruitier and less dry than those that come from vineyards in cold areas. Dry wine is generally considered the more sophisticated choice’ but it is an acquired taste. At the same time, even if a diner prefers fruitier wine, there is a big difference between fruity and soda pop sweet. Furthermore, even when people look for fruity wine, they want something that will work well with food.

Worth a Try for Fruity

In Red Wine Information and Basics, Paul Gregutt of Wine Enthusiast gives a good overview of the fruity undertones one can expect from different red wines. He describes wines made from Gamay, notably Beaujolais, “The grape of Beaujolais Gamay is often made to be drunk quite young, and shows bright, tangy, fruit-driven flavors of strawberry, raspberry, and sweet cherries. When made by the method known as carbonic maceration, young Gamay has a slight effervescence and a distinct smell of bananas…”

With Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot, Gregutt believes you are apt to get notes of violets, blueberry, black olive, and coffee. If your bottle comes from Chinon, Bourgueil, and Saumur-Champigny, it will probably be hard and tannic.

Gregutt further describes other reds that have distinctly fruity flavors. He describes Malbec which has tones of sour cherry and spice, and Merlot, is even fruitier than Malbec. “Merlot is the Chardonnay of reds, easy to pronounce, easy to like, agreeable, and versatile, but mostly lacking any substantive character of its own…” Merlot should carry with it flavors of watermelon, strawberry, cherry, or plum.

He also gives a brief review of Shiraz. Shiraz in Australia “is unarguably that country’s claim to enological fame. Australian Shiraz is made in every conceivable style, from light and fruity to dense and tarry; it is made as a deep red, tannic sparkling wine, and also as a fortified “Port”. In the northern Rhône, the most extraordinary expressions of the grape are produced, especially in Hermitage and Côte Rôtie, where its peppery, dense, spicy fruit is layered into unbelievably complex wines streaked with mineral, smoked meat, tar, wild herb, and leather…

A Guide to Wine Sweetness

Madeline Puckette of Wine Folly gives a very handy Wine Sweetness Chart for those who have no intentions of buying anything too dry or too tart when they pick up a bottle for their next dinner.

Her list of semi-sweet reds includes Lambrusco, Brachetto, D’ Acqui, Recioto Della, and Valpolicella. These normally have flavors reminiscent of candied fruit and flowers. Port, Banyuls, and Maury are classified as sweet, while Tawny Port and Vin Santo Rosso are classified as very sweet.

Apart from her chart, Puckette shares a hint for discerning how dry or sweet or fruity wine is before you actually taste it. “Our sense of smell also greatly affects our perception of sweetness. As you can imagine, a wine that smells sweeter will also taste sweeter. Wine varieties are often referred to as ‘Aromatic’ because of their sweet floral aromas. A few examples of this are Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Muscat…”

Ultimately, the important thing about wine is that it should be pleasing to the palate of whoever is drinking it.  This means those who prefer fruity wines on the sweet sides should go ahead, pick what they like, and enjoy each sip to the fullest.

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